What is the point of a life that is nothing more than an endless series of opportunities?
There’s an interesting article here about The Art of Choosing What to Do with Your Life and it remiinds me that the 20s are an especially stressful decade of life. There is – at least among the privileged with many choices – the sense that any wrong choice will result in lifelong regret.
Not true. But it feels true.
We raised our kids to focus on 3 questions that will impact their whole lives:
- Who (or what) will you worship?
- Who will you spend your life with?
- What will you devote your life’s work to?
(Sorry for ending with prepositions.)
Who or what to worship?
I know a lot of self-identifying Christians (and Jews and Muslims) who claim to worship God but their lives seem to say otherwise. They worship money (“financial security is my priority“) or success (“I have to work for that Fortune 50 company/the Big Steeple Church/the impressive non-profit/the top law firm) or parental favor (“my parents expect me to go into business.”) What do we honestly revere? Sometimes we say we revere something holy/eternal but actually we revere our phones/families/way of life. That First Commandment is a bear.
Who to spend my life with?
Choosing the right life partner is an underrated miracle. I know people who married their partners for reasons like these:
- They were the person I was with when it was time to settle down.
- They were suitable in my parents’ eyes.
- They could provide financial security.
- My kids liked them.
- I wanted a wedding.
- They were my best options if I wanted children.
It’s better not to have a spouse/partner than to wish you didn’t have one.
What will be my life’s work?
To follow one’s bliss is not a choice for most of the world. I have a former parishioner who worked in a factory for over 30 years adding the clasps to brassieres. This was not her dream job. She volunteered in her church for at least that long and it gave her joy and meaning. I know others who hate their jobs to the point of bolting just a few years in looking for more respect and autonomy. I have a friend who has earned six figures all her working life, affording her everything from Super Bowl tickets to private education for her children, but she longs to make a broader difference in her life.
Being of service to something or someone beyond ourselves is beyond life-giving. If we’ve made a positive impact doing whatever we do each day whether it’s repairing a refrigerator or shelving books or helping a new driver get their license, we have done well.
I share all this in the context – once again – of Church World. Too many of our congregatios have forgotten who or what we worship, with whom we will partner in ministry and what we are actually doing with ourselves.
Do we worship God or the pastor/building/pet project?
Do we partner with others to support each other or are we in transactional relationships? (You give me A and I’ll give you B.)
Do we primarily serve ourselves or others?
The art of making decisions – if you ask me – involves these three questions, whether we are individuals or congregations. Have a lovely day.